NOTA could affect Muslim candidates and indirectly benefit BJP in Bhopal

    By Staff Reporter,

    Bhopal: Announcement by NGOs fighting for the justice of Bhopal gas tragedy survivors, to camping among the victims for exercising NOTA option in the assembly election has raised some apprehensions.

    People sceptical of this drastic move believe that if this campaign gets good response then it will indirectly help BJP and could curtail winning chances of Muslim candidates.

    Representatives of NGOs working for the welfare of survivors of Bhopal Gas Tragedy displaying their NOTA decision in the ensuing Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh

    According to five NGOs running this campaign there are around 5 lakh victims effected with gas tragedy, mainly concentrated in three constituencies, Bhopal North, Bhopal Central and Narela. All are Muslim dominated where community’s percentage is around 40-45%.

    Using the newly inserted None Of The Above (NOTA) option in the EVM voter can reject all the listed candidates. Election Commission, which was compelled to introduce this new option after Supreme Court orders, has made it clear that even if majority of electorate exercise NOTA option the candidate who secured larger number of given votes will be declared elected.

    Abdul Jabbar a veteran activist from Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan who is leading the campaign for justice in judiciary from past two decades told TCN that he has his own apprehensions about NOTA campaign, “This kind of pressure tactic can work in village but not in a city where lot of people have different ideologies divided in different camps. If NOTA are used as an option than groups which we don’t like at all will be benefited.”

    Then he went on to explain his worry, “Nearly 44% of gas victims are Muslims, even if 24% accepts your campaign then it will have an adverse effect. There are chances that in Muslim dominated constituencies BJP will win.”

    On the other hand NGOs campaigning for NOTA defends their decision saying that they don’t differentiate between communities or parties.

    Ms. Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, who is leading the campaign with four other NGOs, told TCN that NOTA is a nice way to express anger of victims against both principal parties.

    “Since last three months as part of our ‘No Justice No Vote’ campaign we wrote to both BJP and Congress, but they didn’t even bother to respond. We waited for their manifesto release and found nothing in it for Bhopal gas victims. So now NOTA remained last option to make them listen to victims,” Ms. Dhingra said.

    Pro-NOTA NGOs is of the hope that if they get a good response especially in three most effected constituencies of North, Central and Narela than they will have bargain power in the next Lok Sabha election over Bhopal parliamentary seat.

    They are making a desperate attempt to revive Bhopal gas tragedy in the electoral politics which seem nearly lost in the present political context.

    Whereas Abdul Jabbar fears that if a ‘Jan Andolan’ gets into vote politics than it cannot achieve much successes, “If we activist give a call for protest 2,000 people will assemble, and if a politician does the same hardly 200 will appear, as they know motives behind it. Now if we turn the movement to electoral politics then we face possibility of losing faith among victims.”

    Mr. Jabbar said that both Congress and BJP has done nothing for the victims, both are evil, but an action from their part should not benefit anyone of them, “I am not a supporter of Congress, I do not support NOTA campaign nor oppose it, but I have an apprehension that BJP will benefit.”

    If campaign for NOTA gains momentum and generates good response among the victims than three constituencies will witness major action, Bhoapl North where Arif Aqeel is fighting to retain the seat for fifth term. Presently he is the lone Muslim MLA in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly, Bhopal Central where young Muslim politician Arif Masood is testing his luck on Congress ticket, and Narela another Muslim dominated constituency which doesn’t have any Muslim candidate from a major party.


    Irked Bhopal gas victims launch campaign to opt NOTA button in MP Vidhan Sabha polls